Sunday, December 31, 2017

"What Facebook Did to American Democracy", according to The Atlantic (that is, the elites like me)

Here’s another booklet-length article, “What Facebook Did to American Democracy” (“and why it was so hard to see it coming”) by Alexis C. Madrigal. 

Facebook simply curated the personalized news streams with its algorithms to what people “wanted” to see.  I don’t blame Mark Zuckerberg (even if Mark is an extraterrestrial alien, or is slightly “autistic” like me) for that. 

I think there is simply too great a cultural schism between the “elites” and the “average Joe’s” (the “Trader Joe” mentality). There was a tendency for people to organize themselves loosely out of resentment, without any specifics as to how to fix real problems like health care (hint: do your math first – and that requires elites).


The Russians took advantage of the fact that “elites” “like me” wouldn’t even care what “average Joe’s” thought because we did not hold them in high regard personally.  The “elites” don’t want to rule the world with an oligarchy, but someone like Donald Trump or Putin will pretend he cares about “them” when we won’t even bother. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Race and Genetics: Time Magazine long article shows how deceptive the debate has been

Since there is some occasional controversy over race and IQ, I thought I’d give a 2014 link to a booklet-length Time article by Nicholas Wade, “What Science Says About Race and Genetics”, link here.  
Evolution doesn’t stop,  Generally, over time, colder climates may tend to encourage the survival of people who have traits of deferral of gratification and lower time sensitivity (which translates into lower interest rates).  That may help explain why Western Europe tended toward capitalism and overcame the “Malthusian Trap”. Environmental influences may explain why China and much of Asia favored people who were more group oriented and obedient. 

There is nothing magical about skin color or other physical traits.  But when a society matures in a particular geographical environment with specific challenges, people with certain traits do better than others and may have more children with the same traits. In the late 20th Century, with gender equality and individualism, the notion of reproductive advantage for “smarts” may decrease and other populations may become larger again, producing a demographic winter threat.

These views may relate a bit to Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve:Intelligence and Class Structure in America” (1994, the Free Press)    While the book produced anger from the left, the coldness of its logic is striking and hard to escape, especially for those who want to push intersectionality.  Politicians like Putin use this kind of reasoning to try to get educated people to have more kids and as an excuse for homophobia. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Major bookstore chain liquidates; books become dated quickly, and this hurts self-published authors

While self-publishing companies try to encourage authors to relate to bookstores, more of the chains are failing to Internet competition (as well as physical store competition from Amazon).  Wisconsin based Book World has announced its liquidation, as explained in a B Section story today in the New York Times by David Streitfeld.

This continuing development could make it harder for some kinds of self-publishing assist companies to make money.  Despite charging authors, they actually need to have some authors actually sell books with some kind of scale to remain sustainable.

Unpacking my books after downsizing and moving into a condo, I’m struck by how short the half-life of non-fiction policy books really is. A book on “marriage” written in the early of mid 2000’s is totally out of date today.

Period fiction and fantasy and some genres (romance) may be somewhat immune, but fiction authors who want to exploit current political controversies (like the Middle East, radical Islam, Russia, North Korea, China, and of course presidents) can find their setups dated quickly. The world is very different know than it was a the start of 2016. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Should authors (especially self-published) pay for book reviews? Is it legal? Ethical? Widespread?

Recently I’ve gotten emails offering deals for paid reviews for my books. 
Is it ethical for authors to pay for reviews?  I'll lay aside my own moral inclinations and try to survey industry opinions with some journalistic objectivity. Unfortunately, pundits are all over the place on this one. The question sounds more sensitive for self-published "newbies" than for established family-supporting writers. 
I checked a couple of stories.  Here is one by Kristem Houghton from July 2016 in Huffington Post. 
Jane Friedman weighs in on the topic, suggesting that paid reviews are more appropriate for trade books in certain industries or in children’s., but probably not for the overly personalized narratives I have offered.  As for whether they are “tainted”, the answer is, maybe.

But another site warns that buying paid reviews can get you kicked off Amazon.  It’s not clear if that means buying any paid reviews, or just buying Amazon reviews (and that reminds me of Twitter’s spying on “affiliations” of users for violence, just as I ponder this now).  But it seems to be legal.  I don’t think the FTC has ever said anything about it (thank you, Ajit Pai). 

Publisher’s Weekly offers an “Indie’s Guide to Paid Reviews”   and one can see that many regard this as an acceptable industry practice.

I'll add that my own book and movie reviews, both on Blogger and now Wordpress, are indeed "free".  Like in Reid Ewing's public library (in his 2012 short film). 

One problem with the offer I got recently:  the books in question are old (2000, 2002 and the latest is 2014 – even three-plus years is old for non-fiction).  With a novel being planned, I can consider the idea prospectively for 2018 for the novel. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Some "old books" make a reading list just before the FCC's vote to destroy network neutrality

In the week that the FCC plans to gut network neutrality (although the likelihood of real changes happening quickly as a result seems remote to me), the New York Times offers a survey in its “Newsbook” column by Concepion de Leon. 

There is Tom Standage’s “The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s Online Pioneers” (Walker).  Remember how I made myself into an “institution” in the 1980s before I even had the Internet (as I found ways to affect the AIDS debate in the early days, outside of conventional leftist activism).

Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu ask "Who Controls the Internet?" (2006, Oxford University); in 2010 Wu would follow with “The Master Switch”.  I had my own little lesson with this in 2005 when I was working as a substitute teacher.

In 2011, Thomas Hazlett offers “The Fallacy of Net Neutrality”, which preceded Obama’s 2015 regulations. But the beginnings of neutrality go back to 2005, and Pai wants to erase it all. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

Major papers on the psychology of libertarians: does lack of interest in groups and lack of emotional empathy suggest moral issues?

“PLOS One” has published a major study on the psychology of libertarians, by Ravi Iyer, Spasenna Koleva, Jesse Graham, Peter Ditto, and Jonathan Haidt, “Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians, link
Libertarians, it says, tend to be more individualistic.  They tend to be less interested in involuntary connections to other people, either vertically (as demanded by conservative morality) or horizontally, empathizing with people in various intersectional oppressed groups, as in leftist liberalism.  They believe that personal well-being should be proportional to effort, but not necessarily equal (in the sense of remedying inherited inequality). They tend to believe people should have the freedom to use what they already have without interference from others, but not to feel entitled to take from others who have more because of privilege.

Righteous mind, in a link shared by James Damore on Twitter today, summarizes the paper here.   Libertarians place more emphasis on logical consistency than on emotion.  It ends to be associated with cis masculinity (as among gay libertarians).

I would also read Yuval Levin’s “Taking the Long Way: Disciplines of the Soul Are the Basis of a Liberal Society” (link) from Oct. 2014  where Levin notes the limits that libertarianism can accept on remedying past oppression while letting people use what they have. David Brooks picked up on this essay with a recent piece “The Elites Still Don’t Get It”, where society is not reproducing individuals who can accept covenant with others or even accept needed connections across gulf, driving the less well-off into tribalism and resentment politics. 

Monday, December 04, 2017

"The Wounds They Carry": account of six high school young women at the

Here is a book length story “The Wounds They Carry”, by John Woodrow Cox, photos by Matt McCain, a story of six teenage girls who went to the Las Vegas concert Oct. 1, 2017 at the start of their high school (private, faith-based) homecoming week. It is published in the Washington Post online (paywall). 

Two of the girls were close to the front stand. Illustrations in the article show where they were and the escape path.

The article does get into he recovery and the actual homecoming event a few days later.
This is a more literal video, which is age-restricted (must sign on to Google account so not embedded).
My own most recent visit to Las Vegas occurred in May 2012 (personal photo above). 

I don't recall seeing a comparable article for "Pulse" yet. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

"Book Barn" in Virginia town shows how used book business tries to support a community

I had the pleasure of stopping at a “Book Barn” on “Little Washington” VA along US 211 yesterday.
The “barn” had a massive sale of used books to support, well, “The Library”. (Yes, Reid Ewing, “It’s Free”.)

Actually, a lot the used books in the barn were free, including a basket of them in the bathroom near the commode.

Outdoors, I picked up Samantha Landry’s “Savvy Senior Singles: Navigating the Singles World from 50 and Beyond”, 2007, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg PA, 176 pages, paper. That may supplement a sample I got recently, “Journey from Invisibility to Visibility: A Guide for Women 60 and Beyond”, by Gail K. Harris, Marilyn C. Lesser, and Cynthia T. Soloway, 2016, Amazon CreateSpace, 372 pages, paper. It starts with a verse poem, “A Woman’s Perspective.”

Then there is Charles K. Sykes, “Dumbing Down our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can’t Read, Write or Add” (especially in their heads), 340 pages, hardcover, St. Martin’s Press, 1995.  Sykes has also authored “A Nation of Victims”.  Sounds conservative.

Then there is “Parenting Children with ADHD: 10 Lessons that Medicine Cannot Teach”, by Vincent J. Monastra, Ph. D, from the American Psychological Association, Washington, 2005, 261 pages, paper, originally in the Falls Church VA public library.  The book takes the position that it is about genetics. 

And there is “Surviving your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go Of your 13-18 Year old”, by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph. D. , 2012, Parent Magic, Glen Ellyn IL, 2012, 168 pages.   Don’t let them move back in with you later when they can’t afford their student loans.

I also picked up a paper copy of Suzanne Collins, “The Hunger Games” (2008, Schoolastic) for $1.

Later, in Front Royal, VA, at a random used book store on VA highway 55, I picked up a graphic novel in black and white called “Not So Bad”, by E. Hae (Korea, 2006), about two actors who have seen better days.  I was curious about what manga is all about, since Reid Ewing has covered Danganronpa on his Twitter feeds and reports he is working on his own graphic novel to be called “AppleCore”. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"What to Do About the Emerging Threat of Censorship Creep on the Internet", substantial position paper at Cato

Cato Institute has a long paper by Danielle Keats Citron, “What to Do About the Emerging Threat of Censorship Creep on the Internet”, link here. This may very well have been printed as a Policy Paper.   Citron is the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”.

The paper notes that major content companies, especially social networking platforms, have to adjust their practices to European law which is often stricter on expectations of prior restraint and on specific group-oriented concerns over hate speech than American law. This concern appears in areas like “the right to be forgotten”.  On the other hand, this might give tech companies a heads up if American law loosens Section 230 protections (as over Backpage) although European law does have some due process in downstream liability cases.  


European politicians have extracted concessions from tech companies by threatening to hold them liable for extremist speech. But Europe really is in a hypocritical quandary over handling especially radical Islam. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A small press gives its perspective on "Small Business Saturday"

Today, at the “Small Business Saturday” hosted by the DC Center for the LGBT Community in Washington DC, I was able to talk to a small press owner for Red Bone Press

I did buy one book, a collection of free-form poetry by Marvin K. White, “Our Name Be Witness”.
The press says it specializes in black (or presumably other “intersectional” minority) lesbian and gay issues.

This appears to be a trade press, not self.  It appears to manage the actual production and distribution of books rather than outsourcing it to a self-publisher (like Create Space or Author Solutions).

The owner told me she spends at least two days a week on marketing and running the business as a business (wholesale and retail) as opposed to developing more content (which I spend my time on). 

She also said she spends considerable effort reaching independent bookstores and has been to the Miami Book Fair (covered last weekend).
That’s not the track I have taken but this was very interesting to me.  I did mention the independent store on Cary Street in Richmond, and other stores in Charlottesville and Lovingston (near the Monroe Institute).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Atlantic: Two big essays on the alt-right, including a bio of Andrew Anglin

The December 2017 “Atlantic” (a literary magazine that I recall being mentioned in junior English in high school back in 1960) has two big essays on the alt-right and white supremacist movements that surfaced in Charlottesville.

Luke O’Brien offers “The Making of an American Nazi”, a booklet-length biography of Andrew Anglin. , publisher of the Daily Stormer , p. 54 in print.

For a 30-year old (roughly) Anglin looks particularly unattractive in the photos with the shaved head. But his own evolution reads in the article like a journey into mental illness and nihilism. He started out in the most liberal, hippie culture in Ohio, according to the article, and seems to have dead-ended inside before he adopted what seem in the article like arbitrarily convenient beliefs, easily rationalized.  There seems to have been a sudden disgust with the weak.

O’Brien offers a video about how the anonymity of the Internet facilitates extremism.  He talks about radical groups “growing in the shadows”.

Then Angela Nagle offers “The Lost Boys: Brotherhood of Losers” where the print version (p. 68) seems to mock Donald Trump’s idea of meritocracy.

She talks about how the alt-right is actually splintered along the lines of commitment to extremism (not “united” as Charlottesville tried to claim), but takes some exception to the criticism many of us have of exaggerated minority-defined “safe spaces” on campuses. 

She writes, “Together, right and left created a world in which a young person could invent his own identity and curate his own personal brand online, but also had dimmed hopes for what used to be considered the most basic elements of a decent life – marriage, a job, a house, a community. (Liberalism claimed that a village could raise a child, but never got around to building the village.) Amen, Hillary. 

The hardcopy made good reading on the plane to Florida last Friday. 
Update: Dec. 4

Anglin is defending a lawsuit in Montana from someone he trolled, and his defense is bizarre, Post story

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Miami Book Fair 2017

Despite the fact that my own books on political theory from an autobiographical perspective haven’t been tremendously significant commercially (that is, from sales of copies  -- “instances” of a “class”), the Miami Book Fair for 2017 did have several book vendors emphasizing community engagement from physical books

One of the tent stations dealt with children’s literacy, and another pod offered matching charity donations.

As I related on Wordpress, Author Solutions had eight tent cubicles including one for Xlibris displaying ny own DADT3 book.  All copies were available for $5 cash on site.
PBS Books describes the fair.
The Fair runs until Nov. 19

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Yahoo: "Hate in America: Where It Comes From and Why It's Back"

Andrew Romano and Lisa Belkin have a booklet-length piece on Yahoo, “Hate in America: Where It Comes from and Why It’s Back”, link 

What comes through the piece is how important “tribal” identification has usually been for most people, and how politicians want to exploit it. 


It seems as though doing your own thinking is indeed a luxury. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

More remarks on independent bookstores in great multiplicity; publishers worry novelists could inspire copycat terrorists (they really worry)

Well, in practically every college town or even major tourist stop, I find little independent stores selling used book and sometimes a curated selection of new books.  On the hip (for conservative Richmond VA) Cary Street Saturday (a cold day), I stumbled upon Chop Suey Books, although I didn’t get to meet the store cat, who was sleeping in a closet.

I’m beginning to believe that my little “Do Ask Do Tell” series could catch eyes in places like this.  While some of the self-publishing companies have bookstore returnability policies and campaigns to contact samples of them, it seems as though there is a large number of smaller ones that I simply stumble on. Some of them also sell antiques.  It’s hard to imagine a business model to sell self-published books in these stores that could work with a reasonable logistical effort by the author.  But it is something to think about as I start working up my sci-fi novel.

In a meeting today with an attorney and would-be suspense author, I was told that publishers are telling suspense authors to stay away from depicting terror plots that are really too realistic and could actually be carried out.  I can recall right after 9/11, the CIA said, “what we had was a failure of imagination.”  No longer.  I said, well, publish on Create Space. And he says, that destroys your chance to ever sell.  I also heard that the most vulnerable pile of inadequately defended nuclear waste and raw materials in the world is in Kazakhstan.

The lapse at the NSA leading to the explosion of malware last spring may already be a case of life following art. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

When moving and downsizing, I find "racist" (and "sexist') children's books in the family collection, still surviving

When I unpacked the multiplicity of boxes from moving and downsizing, a couple of real antiques popped out.

One of these was an orange hardcover children’s book, “Little Black Sambo”, 24 pages, from the M.A. Donohue and Company, Chicago and New York, no author given, no date given (probably the 1940s). But it starts out by talking about a “little black boy’ with the name of the book.
We know the tale. A tiger wants to “eat him up”, and he manipulates the tigers into a rosy ring so that they turn to butter, and he eats the pancakes.

I may remember this book from the family’s first apartment in Arlington VA in the late 1940s.

Of course, the racism is obvious, as well as the disregard for the intelligence of “higher” wild animals.

There was a pancake house chain called Sambo's until the early 1980s. but the racism of the na,e contributed to its undoing -- a lesson in trademark.
I also found a Wolf Cub Scout book, which I thought was a family antique (I was forced to be a Cub Scout for one year when I was 8),  But I see a receipt from a purchase at a country store in Owatonna MN along I-35 in January 2001 when I was living in Minneapolis.

In any case, there’s a lot of stuff on chores that little boys need to learn to do to measure up.

Of course, we all know the odyssey of scouting, especially on LGBT and then plain gender over the past two decades.

And the BSA, headquartered in Dallas, actually would show up at job fairs for computer programmers in the 1980s. 

A few of them didn’t survive.  One of these was Duvall’s “Facts of Life andLove for Teenagers” from the 1950s. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Vox interviews author of "The Atheist Muslim"

I don’t think I’ll get around to reading Ali Rivzi’s “The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason” soon, but I wanted to link to the interview on Vox between the author and Sean Illing, :An atheist Muslim on what the Left and Right get wrong about Islam, link .

The author talks about identity exploration and commitment, in binary combinations that can lead to identity foreclosure, or identity drifting. Young men may find real identity in what they believe is the literal interpretation of scripture, as well as a sense of “belonging”.


The book (256 pages) is published by St. Martin’s Press. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Milo publishes books by other conservative authors (Pamela Geller)

Milo Yiannopoulos wound up self-publishing his book “Dangerous” with his own little book publishing company “Dangerous” after a psedo-scandal last February; now Milo seems interested in publishing books by other conservative authors who find trouble getting published by the establishment presses and who don’t want to go their own self-publishing routes.

He has published Pamela Geller’s “Fatwa: Hunted in America”, as Pamela describes in her own article in American Thinker.   Geller had tried to sponsor a “cartoon drawing” contest in 2015, resulting in the failed Curtis Culwell CenterAttack.  

Friday, November 03, 2017

IIT theories from the physics of consciousness could help studies with persistently unconscious patients (Scientific American)

Continuing the idea of Integrated information theory (IIT) from Oct. 25, Christof Koch looks at the concept in developing was to evaluated patients in a vegetative state or in UWS (unresponsive wakefulness syndrome), in a Scientific American article Nov. 2017 on p. 28, “How to Wake an Unconscious Mind” or “How to Make a Consciousness Meter”, link (paywall). 

Koch talks about the conscious experience as “different” from all other experiences, yet “seamless, integrated, and holistic.” The also characterizes IIT with a pertubational complexity index, or PCI. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Neuro-Quantology journal offers comprehensive view of personal consciousness that compares it to a black hole

Dirk K. F. Meijir and Hans J.S. Geesink have a paper “Consciousness in the Universe Is Scale Invariant, and Implies and Event Horizon of the Human Brain”.  The paper is shared on a free PDF at this link in the Epoch Times, which leads to this PDF in Neuro-Quantology. 
The brain is depicted as a receptacle that becomes closely bound (through microtubules) to a fourth-dimensional torus-like “work space” that integrates a set of information. The brain is compared to a black hole that has its own event horizon. Once inside it, you are inside a personal identity which takes shape because of its tight integration.

After death the information would still exist.  It might be integrated again into some other system that becomes tightly bound – the afterlife would comprise integrated consciousness that can redistribute back to parts.  When you have a muscle twitch, it has a “mind of its own” and wants to twitch, but your brain overrules it. “Muscle memory” (in playing piano or in hitting baseballs) might be a kind of locally distributed identity which the brain overseas.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Philosophy Now" takes up "Radical Theories of Consciousness"

Issue 121 of “Philosophy Now” takes up “Radical Theories of Consciousness”.

After an editorial which explains who Galileo took consciousness out of the physical word, is followed by Philip Goff, “The case for panpsychism”.    

Sam Coleman takes up “neutral monism”.

But the main course is “The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness” ](IIT) by Hedda Hassel March.  In this view, all baryonic matter may be capable of consciousness, but any being that is thoroughly integrated will become a center of consciousness. That is true of the human (or any higher animal) brain, even though “muscle memory” (what a pianist or baseball batter needs) and habit can keep some localization (which may be stronger in other animals, like the octopus). A plant is more like a society.  A siphonophore is supposed to be a colony of separate organisms that can test the idea of distributed consciousness and purpose.

If the soul really does migrate to some other physical structure after death (a black hole) integration of the souls by some sort of family group could lead to an immortal group mind which contains fragments of awareness of the individuals who contributed to it. 
For the finale Kelvin McQueen asks “Does consciousness cause quantum collapse?” 

Monday, October 23, 2017

"The First White President": Atlantic booklet about Donald Trump

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a booklet-length article in the October Atlantic “The First White President” about Donald Trump, link. The blunt subtitle is, “The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.

The article questions the theory that the election was about elitism or class inequality; it presents some evidence that Trump voters averaged higher income than generally thought.   instead it’s primarily about subtle forms of racism going back to colonial times and relatively little written about outside some PhD dissertations.


The article claims Trump was racist in his management of properties, but he never showed any racism on “The Apprentice” as some black candidates did well.  Remember Omarosa. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Should "Mockingbird" always be taught in schools? How about "Monster"?

I’ve talked about Harper Lee and “To Kill a Mockingbird” a couple times here before (July 15, 2015), but Alice Randall of NBC News “Think” questions “Why are we still teaching ‘To Kill a Mockingbird; in schools?” 

Randall makes the point that some of the elements of the story might be interpreted by underprivileged African American children as further justification for believing in inferior social status.


She recommends “Monster” (1999) by African-American writer Walter Dean Myers (Amistad reprint), It’s about the prosecution of a black teen for his participation in a convenience store killing. 

In connection with Millinneal Bloggers, CM Rubin writes "The Global Search for Education: Let's Talk about Racism", here.  I note the comment about "English Literature" v. "Literature in English". 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Lit Crawl" literature fair visits Los Angeles, other cities

I got a press release concerning a “Lit Crawl LosAngeles” to be held in North Hollywood.  

The event will include many LGBTQ books according to what I am told.

The group sets up book and literature fairs in various cities.  The word “crawl” comes from the idea of a “pub crawl” (like in the UK movie “World’s End”).  I wonder if the event has occurred in Minneapolis (in the Uptown area near the Lagoon Theater is the obvious place). 

The press release from PlatformMedia Group(site requires Adobe flash) reads:

We’re are aware how busy the book season is around this time of year so we’d hope to get this on your radar ASAP.  

“We’re pleased to announce this year's Lit Crawl® L.A. on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. For the FIFTH consecutive year, thousands of literary arts lovers from throughout Southern California are expected to converge in the North Hollywood Arts District for one night of “literary mayhem.” 

“As you might recall, Lit Crawl is a choose-your-own literary adventure experience featuring dozens of restaurants, theaters, galleries, bars, and other unique venues hosting literary events over the course of three rounds. From readings to performances, the 5th annual Lit Crawl L.A. will be an unforgettable—and entirely walkable— experience. 

“I can’t guarantee this but I think that besides the Festival of Books, the Lit Crawl is one of the four or five biggest annual literary events in LA.

“We hope you have an opportunity to feature it and we’ve attached our press release and the full schedule for your reference. 

“We’d also be happy to coordinate any interviews with the founders or participants. If you need anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”

I was last in LA in 2012 (including West Hollywood, including the Abbey).

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Noam Chomsky's "Global Discontents"

Noam Chomsky has a new book, “Global Discontents: Global Conservations on the Rising Threats to Democracy”, which he explains in an interview for “The Nation” with David Barsamian and also an arlier conversation with  Tom Dispatch (link ).

Trump’s “buffoonery” is said to exaggerate the tribal politics of resentment that builds on earlier problems with right-wing based capitalism: that many people never get the skills to “compete” and wind up subservient to those with more economic power.


The problem with “personal responsibility” ideology is that the world has become meaningless to a lot of people left behind. 

Friday, October 06, 2017

Recalling Temple's "The Sirius Mystery" about supposed alien visitations pre-Egypt

Yesterday, I reviewed a “short film” on whether a companion star to ("Dog Star") Sirius (the brightest in the night sky) could ever become a supernova and fry us;  that reminded me of a book I read in the late 1980s, “The Sirius Mystery: New Evidence of Alien Contact 5000 Years Ago”, by Robert K. G. Temple (UK).  The book was reissued in paper in 1998.  I think I have the hardcover somewhere;  maybe it will turn up as I move soon.
The book presented supposed evidence from ancient Egypt, as well as the Dogon in Mali in Africa. The Dogon have interesting beliefs about human sexuality developed.

But Sirius is a much larger star than the Sun, and may not have been stable as long as the Sun, long enough for a civilization on a planet to develop.  The presence of a white dwarf perturbing orbits of any planets could complicate things.

Wikipedia attribution link by SenaniP CCSA 3.0 of Circumcision Cave in Mali. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cookbook author in Australia has book withdrawn over her conduct regarding charities

A blogger in Australia had a cookbook withdrawn after it was revealed she had apparently lied about charitable donations she had made, and apparently was fined.  It isn’t necessarily the case that American law would have treated her conduct the same way. Here’s a typical news story. Amazon has a database entry for the book but says it is "unavailable".

But what was also interesting about the case that the publisher, Penguin, had given her “media training” and then put her on notice about questions concerning her charitable giving.  That’s the first time I’ve heard of this issue coming up between a trade publisher and an author.

However trade publishers are concerned about the “conduct” of their authors.  Simon and Schuster withdrew publishing Milo Yiannopoulos in February (“Dangerous”) after a supposed “scandal”, which I’ve discussed elsewhere (I think the matter was greatly overblown by the media and not based on the real facts).  Milo went on to self-publish the book.

When trust or estate money is invested in media projects (especially independent film), concerns can arise over whether beneficiaries have been properly notified.  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The legacy of slave essayist and poet George Moses Horton

A lost essay, in cursive penmanship,Jenn found in the New York Public Library, called “Individual Influence”, by a former slave, George Moses Horton, back in 1817, is said to predict today’s debate on free speech on campus. The poet had worked on a plantation near Chapel Hill, NC. site of today’s UNC.

Jennifer Schuessler presents the material in the New York Times, although the manuscript handwriting is very hard to read.

The piece is said to be a 500-word sermon.

One of his most important poems is “Of Liberty and Slavery”. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Andrew Sullivan's booklet on tribalism: "America Wasn't Built for Humans"

Andrew Sullivan offers a booklet-length article in New York Magazine Sept. 19, 2017, “America Wasn’t Built for Humans” with the byline “Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we would overcome; And so it has become out greatest vulnerability”.

The article roughly equates American tribalism with hyper partisanship, but it also promotes intellectual reduction, especially the over broad ideas of what comprises a “hate crime” or “white supremacy”.  It seems intellectually lazy but also reflects on what my own mother used to call “real life”.  He points out how Chadwick Moore was ostracized merely for giving Milo Yiannopoulos credibility in an otherwise reasonably funny and critical piece in “Out”.

I certainly experienced the same sort of tribalism in many episodes of my own life, as leftist leadership in much of the gay community demanded loyalty to its own imposition of identity politics
Sullivan sees our historical denial of our “tribal nature” as a flaw in the way the nation was set up after the Constitution was adopted. Then later, this little snarky, timocratic gem: “One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you actually don’t have to think very much.”  You can watch your whole life’s output grow less bad.

Sullivan refers to Sebastian Junger’s “Tribe” (WP review) and Wades’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” (review), where civilization tried to gnaw away at tribalism. 

Michael Gerson review’s Sullivan’s essay on p. A17, “A Triumph of Tribalism”, on p. A17 of the Washington Post today.  l

Thursday, September 07, 2017

"Real Fast Indie Marketing" for self-published books to wholesalers and independent bookstores presented in webinar

I got an email informing me of the “Real Fast IndieMarketing” service by Amy Collins (emailed by New Shelves Books).

Amy offers classes and webinars, and there is a 2-hour video of some of the classes.

Amy stresses several important points.  Independent and chain bookstores often do well with physical books, even though the popular myth is that Amazon kindle and BN Nook are destroying books.  Her course material (there are packages that range up to about $700) cover how to design a marketing campaign, which should start before the self-publication of a book, either by a print run or by POD.

She stresses the importance of finding a wholesaler.  Ingram may not be willing to wholesale self-published books and POD unless through its affiliated Ingram Sparks;  but I know that other POD companies (Authors’ Solution) do offer packages that include wholesaling and independent bookstore campaigns.

She says that there are reputable companies that do provide third-party reviews.
She emphasizes that authors need to learn people skills and awareness of the business needs of stores. 

She suggests that authors spend 20-30 minutes on marketing every weekday starting before publication.  Well written cover letters and marketing plans are essential. 

She spends sometime on niche books, which can sometimes be placed in specialty stores like gift shops. Hospitals, airports, supermarkets, convenience stores, pet or sporting goods (depending on content). 

She talks about cover design.  If you have a science fiction novel set on another planet, show what a community on this other planet would look like.  
She talks about categories of readers, including "avid" readers who usually will go to book stores, or to the public library, where, according to Reid Ewing in his little 2012 film, "It's Free". 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Boy Scout arranges mechanism to donate books to homeless shelter in MD

WJLA7 (Sinclair) reports that a Boy Scout in Montgomery County, MD has donated (probably by getting donations first) about 2000 books to a homeless shelter (not sure if it is in DC or MD).  

It looks very much like I will do a downsizing and household move soon, and some older books could be donated.  But many are policy books and of a nature not likely to work well in a shelter.  But it’s a definitely a good idea to consider. 

But I would definitely keep the 1950 set of World Book Encyclopedias, with their wonderful elevation maps of all the states and Canadian provinces. They've never reinstated them in later versions.  I don't know why.  These were a favorite in my high school days. 

Friday, September 01, 2017

How authors self-publish fiction series and actually make them sell to "addicted" readers

There’s a site called Self-Publishing Advice and I found a long blog post and interview on how fiction series authors can get started, when the author intends a series, with a technique called “Perma free” (the first book follows “it’s free” on a table) and then Kindle Unlimited (KDP). There is a debate as to whether this is more effective than trying to use as many retail outlets as possible.
Here is the blog posting by Jay Artale as Pippa Da Costa and Susan Kaye carry on a discussion, link .

The article, dated today (Sept. 1) is quite long, but I was surprised at the claim by many author that they can get readers hooked on their series, especially in romance, fantasy, or sci-fi.

It’s true, I see people reading tablets and Kindles on the DC Metro, but I don’t see a lot of hardcopy texts.  OK, one day I saw a hunk reading a philosophy textbook for college, rather like seeing a young math professor looking over a calculus quiz he was going to give.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Washington Post puts out online booklet on Texas flooding, many photos and videos and personal stories

Here is a special Washington Post “booklet” online about the Houston floods, “Where Are We Supposed to Go?”, link

It contains many videos, which include Rockport, TX, where the Category 4 hurricane came ashore. 
One family says they have lost everything, have to start over. 

There is going to be a lot of criticism of the way Houston was overdeveloped on land that mostly flood plain. 

OANN correspondent Trey Yingst has been reporting from Texas on Twitter.

One question is how people will be housed after flood waters (including reservoir release, especially into the Buffalo Bayou).  There are reports that FEMA doesn’t have enough manufactured housing trailers, although there are many manufacturers that can churn them out quickly.  After Katrina, many people were relocated to Texas, especially the Houston area, permanently. This could drive up housing costs almost everywhere in the U.S.

Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. picture by US Army Lt Zachary West.